RISING FROM THE DEAD

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“We now live outside of the cemetery,” says Anna B. Villegas, 32, apparently with proud air about her.

Anna is referring to the Manila North Cemetery (MNC), where her family used to live. To her and thousands of others who reside there, the life-goal has been to be able to own a house or at least rent a place outside of the MNC.

Anna’s dream came true because of the $4,000 livelihood grant that the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) received recently from the United Methodist Women (UMW).

On March 8, 2017, the grant was distributed to 13 recipients and Anna was one of them. She immediately bought a pedicab for her husband, Joselito, who now uses it to collect recyclable materials like plastic and glass bottles in Manila North Cemetery and neighboring communities.

Before acquiring the pedicab, the Villegas couple were caretakers of tombs in MNC.

“It was difficult living in the cemetery, especially when it rains and floods,” narrates Anna. “It is not safe there and there are a lot of drug addicts around.”

She says she and her family are now “happy to live in Caloocan City” albeit, still making both ends meet.

“Our monthly room rental is P2,000 plus P1,000 for electricity and water. My husband earns an average of P300-P400 a day, enough to meet the daily expenses,” she discloses, adding that Joselito works six days a week.

The Villegas family is blessed to receive a scholarship grant from a Korean national that benefits three of her four children, thereby augmenting the family income. She proudly says that her children are honor students: Krishen Keith Althea (Top 3), Kyle Dustin (Top 6) and Kristel Keith (Top 9). The youngest is yet to go to school.

Anna has her church, San Pancratio Parish in Caloocan City, for linking her to the generous Korean benefactor.

Anna wants the best for her family. Though she is a graduate of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Housekeeping Course, she wants to prioritize taking care of her family instead of working abroad.

She keeps on learning and has attended workshops on candle-making, fabric conditioner-making and dishwashing soap-making.

She is also a parent-leader of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) City Link since 2012.

Indeed, Anna is worth emulating. She and her husband continues to strive to improve their lives, and the first step came when they brought their family out of the cemetery.

 

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AT HOME AT KKFI

by Eda Acierto

(We are re-posting the the article on Eureka Joy Bueno, a loyal dormitory resident who stayed at the Kapatiran dormitory from 1997 to 2014 as part of the 67th Founding Anniversary celebration. This was first published in the 2013 Annual Report.)

 

Eureka Joy Bueno is one of the “big sisters” at the KKFI dormitory. She came to Manila in 1993 to continue her studies at the Philippine Christian University. She was a transferee from Saint Paul University.

In 1995, she worked as a secretary for a Chinese couple who owns a hardware business. It was in May 1997 when she decided to reside at KKFI to be with her younger sister, who was a resident from 1996 to 2000.

Joy was taking up a master’s degree in counseling at the De La Salle University (DLSU) when she was admitted to the KKFI dormitory.

Her family learned about KKFI dormitories from their pastor’s wife whose daughter had a reservation at KKFI. Since she was accepted at Mary Johnston College, they thought of transferring their reservation to Joy’s sister.

Joy said she likes KKFI because it gave her a safe place to stay.

“It has been home for me and I also found my second family here in the person of housemothers and dorm residents,” she said.

The dorm had a lot of activities to offer, such as acquaintance parties, Christmas parties, and most of all the weekly cell groups that started in 2004 and lasted up to 2008.

“It opened doors and increased my network of friends,” she pointed out.

Joining KKFI program and activities strengthened her passion to reach out to the community.

Her personal dream is to be a channel of blessing not just to her own family but to the community. She also wishes that her family will also feel the same passion she has in reaching out to people in need.

“KKFI has helped me see others as I see myself. To be more giving and to think of others’ needs first before one’s self,” she said.

She expressed hope that KKFI will continue its mission and vision to empower the people in the community.

Her message to KKFI staff, donors and stakeholders: “I would like to commend the efforts that KKFI staff put into their work — their going beyond the call of duty to serve and to be excellent in their work and for providing a warm and friendly accommodation for residents like myself. To the donors and stakeholders, I say, ‘thank you and may you be richly blessed for your generosity’.”

ANG NASIMULAN NG LIKHARAL

FB_IMG_1494578213164ni Joanna Marie Merced
 
Matapos ang dalawang taong pakikibahagi ko sa “LikhAral” ng Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI), dumating din ang pinakahihintay kong pagkakataon ngayong taon na ito.
 
Dati ay tagasaway lamang ako ng mga makukulit na batang kasali sa LikhAral. Bukod nga pala dito ay taga-ayos din ako ng mga kalat at tagabili ng pagkain ng mga mag-aaral at titser na nagutom matapos ang dalawang oras na sesyon. Ngunit ngayon taong ito, iba na ang level ko. Isa na ako sa mga guro ng LikhAral!
 
Nag-umpisa ito nang anyayahan ako ni Ate Christian Love D. Gagno na maging bahagi ng “Trainor’s Training” na ginanap sa Baguio City ilang buwan lamang ang nakakaraan. Nakasama ko doon sina Flora Mae Tatoy at Raquel Fabre, na pawang staff ng KKFI. Maraming iba pa ang nakasali sa nasabing pagsasanay at sila ay pawang nagmula sa mga local churches ng United Methodist Church (UMC).
 
“Tell the Good News” ang tema ng Vacation Church School (VCS) ngayong taon, at ito ay pinag-aralan namin sa loob ng tatlong araw. Ang mga participants ng training ang may responsableng ipahayag ang nasabing mensahe. Naitanong ko tuloy sa aking sarili: “Kaya ko ba?”
 
Ito at iba pang mga tanong ang naglaro sa aking utak. Siyempre pa, kinakabahan ako pero, ewan ko ba, may galak akong naramdaman sa aking puso. Totoong natutuwa ako sa karanasang aking pinagdaanan sa Baguio. Nakakilala ako ng mga gurong may kanya-kanyang katangian at kakayahan. May masungit at may mabait. Ngunit hindi ko naramdamang hadlang ang iba’t ibang pinagmulan dahil iisa lamang ang aming layunin—ang maipalaganap ang Mabuting Balita sa mga kabataang lalahok sa VCS, o ang KKFI version nito na LikhAral.
 
Nakakatuwang isipin na may iba’t ibang pamamaraan upang ipahayag ang pag-ibig ng Diyos sa sanlibutan. Sa Baguio, nakita ko kung paanong pinagsama-sama ng Panginoon ang mga taong hindi magkakakilala upang magkaisa. Sadyang kahanga-hanga kung paano itinuturo ang pag-aaral ng mga kanta, ang paggawa ng mga bagay-bagay mula sa malikhaing kamay ng mga kalahok at ang paglalagay ng tamang aksyon sa mga liriko ng kanta.
Tinuruan kami kung paano magpatawad at humingi ng tawad sa mga taong nakasakit at nasaktan namin. Kung magagawa umano ito, masasabi mo na kung kaya mong magpalaganap ang salita ng Diyos.
 
Maaaring maiksi lamang ang tatlong araw sa ganoong klase ng pagsasanay pero ang mga aral na natutunan ko ay naipunla na sa aking puso at isipan. Siyempre, hindi natatapos sa Baguio ang aking pagkakatuto sapagkat ibinahagi namin nina Flor at Raquel ang aming mga natutunan sa mga kabataan mula sa Tondo, Manila North Cemetery at Bulacan. Ang isang guro ay patuloy na natututo habang siya ay nagtuturo.
 
Ang pinakamahalaga kong natutunan ay ang katotohanang Malaki ang impact ng tatlong araw na LikhAral sa buhay ng mga bata. Nakakagalak sa aking puso ang makita silang nagpupursigeng magawa ang iniatas sa kanilang gawain. Kay gandang tingnan na ginagamit nila ang kanilang malikhaing kamay, mga boses, mga kamay at paa sa pagsunod sa liriko at ritmo ng bawat kanta.
 
Wala ngang imposible sa Panginoon. Sino ang mag-aakala na 40 kabataan ng Tondo ang tatanggap sa leksyon ukol sa pag-ibig ng Diyos? Kaya’t ang epekto sa akin nito ay tagos sa aking pagkatao dahil nakakataba ng puso ang kaalamang mahal ka ng mga kabataang-Tondo.
 
Alam kong naituro namin nang maayos ang mga dapat matutunan ng aming mga estudyante, na siya namang magtuturo sa mga batang lalahok sa limang araw na pag-aaral sa Tondo, Paredes, MNC at Bulacan. At hindi nga nila kami binigo dahil maayos nilang naisagawa ang LikhAral sa mga lugar na nabanggit.
 
Nakakapagdulot ng ligaya na maisalin sa mga estudyante ang mga leksyong aming natutunan sa Baguio. Kung minsan nga ay nananaginip ako na nagtuturo ako at nag-uunahang sumagot sa tanong ang aking mga mag-aaral, sumasali sa bawat palaro, gumuguhit gamit ang krayola at papel at nagbabasa ng mga assignment.
 
Alam naming hindi perpekto ang aming mga nagawa. Maaaring may kulang. Pero tiwala kaming naihayag namin ang kailangang iparating na tema na “Tell the Good News.” Nananampalataya ako na ang bawat batang nakilahok sa LikhAral—sa kanyang bawat pagkanta, pagkembot sa saliw ng awit, pag-memorya ng Bible verse at pagpapatotoo na mahal sila ng Diyos—ay nakapiling ang Panginoong Jesus sa mga panahong iyon.
 
Alam ko na hindi natatapos dito ang mga katuruang inihatid namin. Sa kapangyarihan ni Jesus, ito ay simula lamang.

DETERMINATION OVERCOMES ALL ODDS

 

By Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“I am happy because I have proven to myself that despite poverty, one can succeed,” shared by Hazel Dungog, 22 in the vernacular. “I was determined to succeed because I do not want to disappoint or break the trust given by Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) management and staff.”

Hazel, a KKFI scholar, is the first Alternative Learning System (ALS) passer to finish a four-year college course. She belongs to the first batch of students in Sampaloc, Manila who pioneered the ALS program of KKFI in August 2011.

dungog
Hazel Dungog during the graduations rites at the University of Manila last March 31, 2017

Last March 31, she graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Criminology from the University of Manila.

In my previous interview with Hazel in March 2013, I have seen how determined she was to achieve her dreams. She was teary-eyed when she narrated to the hardships she was undergoing.

She is eldest of five children of a construction worker. Though their mother helps augment the family’s income by accepting laundry and selling bananas, their income was not enough. Hazel had to stop going to school and help earn money.

“Before, my dream was just to graduate and pass the board examination and be a faithful and honorable law enforcer. Now, I want to give a better and comfortable life for my family,” expressed by Hazel.

“I am thankful to KKFI for being supportive. They even gave me a place to stay during my last year in the university,” added Hazel.

Hazel was referring to her one-year stay at Kapatiran dormitory when their rented room in Mayhaligue, Sta. Cruz, Manila was demolished. Though they were able to save money for the room rental fee and down payment when they stayed at their grandparents’ place, the room they could afford was too small.

She said she enjoyed staying at the dormitory where she was comfortable. She was a diligent student whose routine is dorm-school, home-dorm.

Most of all, she is thankful to KKFI for giving her a chance to finish school and achieve her dreams.

“I am grateful to see and know the importance of education,” she exclaimed. She added, “I am happy to experience the importance of unity in a group and to be able to participate in the activities of KKFI.”

Hazel was referring to her stint as a volunteer assistant teacher at the Child Development Center and as a teacher at the LikhAral (Create and Learn) Program. She was also able to experience the Lakbay-Aral and team-building activities for KKFI staff and volunteers.

hazel
Hazel, leftmost with her fellow Likharal teacher, Judith Ramirez and their students

At present, Hazel is working as a collector at the CMDCO Cooperative. She believes in the mission of CMDCO to help vendors expand their business and to increase their capital by providing loans to these vendors at low interest rates.

Hazel plans to continue working while reviewing for the comprehensive examination for would-be law enforcers. She intends to save as much as she can in order to help out in her family’s expenses.

She advised her fellow scholars and ALS students to continue what they started and to never give up and give in to trials and difficulties. She said they should focus on their dreams and be determined to succeed and not to break the trust given by KKFI and to prove that it did not make a mistake in helping them.

Her wish for KKFI is stability. She hopes KKFI will continue its mission of helping the needy and underprivileged. She prays that KKFI would have more recipients and beneficiaries.

“Thank you to all the staff of KKFI in the Administration, Resource Development and Program departments most especially to Sir Vincent Eliver, Sir Rex Dayao, Ma’am Nancy Nicolas, Ate Love Gagno and Ate Judith Ramirez,” as Hazel enumerated the staff who proved instrumental in her success.

“Thanks too to the donors and partners of KKFI like Ma’am Ruth Flores, Sir David Ahearn, Sir Philip Myers and to the LaGrange College.”

In conclusion, she thanked everyone for the unending support and assistance to the scholars and ALS students, saying, “May God bless you. Mabuhay po kayong lahat!”

WELCOME BACK HOME!

By Nancy C. Nicolas

Executive Director

 

A loud cheer greeted the Rev. Olympia  “Oly” Hidalgo’s announcement during today’s (May 2, 2017) morning devotion of Kapatiran staff that she will stay as the chaplain of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI).

The Philippine Annual Conference (PAC), where the KKFI belongs, held its yearly meeting in Tagaytay Mission Camp in Tagaytay City last week. On the last day of the holy conferencing, Manila Episcopal Area (MEA) Resident Bishop Ciriaco “Cerrie” Francisco announced the church assignments of pastors and deaconesses. Some of them had new assignments and some were retained.

“You have to bear with me a little while longer,” she told the KKFI staff jokingly. Pastor Oly is set to go to Iowa state in the United States a few months from now (probably August 2017) to do mission work there as a United Methodist Church (UMC) church worker. It was an assignment she had been waiting for in more than a year.

Bishop Francisco’s decision was what exactly Pastor Oly was praying for.  She needed to be assigned within Metro Manila, at least, to allow her to work on her visa for her U.S. assignment. She was almost assigned to a mission church located in a remote part of Batangas. She had to ask for DS Max Gabriel and Bishop Francisco’s understanding and consideration in order to make her wish come true.

Of course, I am very happy to welcome back Pastor Oly, even if only for a few months more. I am also very glad that Pastor Maricel Osias, Pastor Oly’s replacement once she leaves for the U.S. sometime between this month and August, agreed to wait.

ptrOly
Rev. Oly Marcos-Hidalgo

Choosing the chaplain for KKFI must be a bit more difficult for the bishop. The chaplain of Kapatiran must possess certain qualities that should fit the position. Aside from the KKFI staff, the “congregation” of the chaplain includes the 300 dorm residents, the beneficiaries of KKFI program such as the students of Alternative Learning System (ALS) and scholars, the senior citizens who gather weekly to join the Day Center for the Elderly and the total population of the University Belt (U-Belt) in Manila where the Kapatiran compound is located.

I also glad to have female pastors as chaplains of KKFI. We are contemplating on coming up with an aggressive campaign against sex predators in the U-Belt. I had a chance to talk to an acquaintance who happens to be active in the fight against human trafficking and sexual abuse. I was aghast when he told me of pastors of the church and professors of universities who take advantage of their young female church members or students sexually.

Hence, a female pastor as KKFI chaplain is a preferred choice. She has a long list of things to do for the Foundation. Only one thing I can assure her: Working in KKFI as a chaplain is an exciting and memorable experience.

Again, I greet Pastor Oly a big “Welcome Back!” I am also looking forward to the time Pastor Maricel will start working for KKFI as the head of its Pastoral Care Department (PCD).

Pastor Maricel is not new to KKFI. She stayed with us when she, her husband Darryl and their cute one-year-old daughter was still looking for an apartment to rent. Pastor Maricel is from Mindanao, where she and Darryl, the Administrative Assistant of Bishop Francisco, first met.

Osias family
Ptr. Maricel Osias with husband, Darryl, and baby

When the bishop was re-elected last year, he chose the Manila Episcopal Area (MEA) and reappointed Darryl to the latter post. Hence, the whole Osias family needed to transfer from Kidapawan City to Manila. And, yes, the bishop also decided to appoint Pastor Maricel to the chaplaincy of KKFI.

So, to Pastor Oly and Pastor Maricel, the whole KKFI family says: “Welcome back home!”

Kapatiran Dorm: Conducive to Studying

Eda Acierto

 

As a Dormitory Manager, I usually roam around the 4-cluster dormitory buildings in the compound of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation, Inc. (KKFI). This dormitory complex is located in the heart of the University-Belt (U-Belt).

On these occasions which is typically at night, I mingle with residents who are doing their activities. I would check the reviewer-filled library, the newly renovated multi-purpose student center (K-Hub) where residents with common interests happily meet.

I always remind them to be mindful of the curfew. In these cases, I would take the opportunity to ask how they are, personally and scholastically and ask them, “Is KKFI dorm really conducive for study?” In this blog, I would feature two residents.

Keyselle Palasigue, a board passer in the recently held licensure examination for certified public accountants (CPA), has been staying here for three and a half years. She graduated cum laude, an achievement all students are aspiring for and all parents are proud of.

keyselle
Keyselle Palasigue

When asked how she achieved her high grades in school, she would often say it was because of the facilities that the Kapatiran dorm offers. She claimed they helped her a lot in her studies. Whenever it was too hot in their room, she would go to the air-conditioned library. There, she could concentrate more on her subjects.

She said, the canteen inside the compound also helped since it saved her time. Rather than waste time going out of the KKFI compound to scout for a dining place around the area, she would simply step out of the dorm building and walk a few steps to the KKFI canteen, saving some time that she could spend for reviewing.

“Sobrang komportable ang pagtira ko dito. Ang daming pasilidad na maaaring pagkaabalahan. Pakiramdam ko ay para lang akong nasa bahay namin sa Tarlac” (My stay here is very comfortable. There are a lot of facilities to be busy at. I could feel the atmosphere of our home in Tarlac.),” she mused.

The other resident I interviewed was Myking Dunca. Myking, now a licensed mechanical engineer, would invariably visit the KKFI dorm whenever he comes to the Manila. He stayed in the dorm during the full duration of his review until examination days.

When asked what made him miss the dorm, he would say without blinking: “Friends, a relaxing place, peaceful from the city’s rat-race, the air-conditioned library and the K-Hub which was very significant for us reviewers because it helped us a lot in breaking the stressful moments of our reviews.”

“Swerte sa amin ang KKFI dahil lahat kaming walong mechanical engineering reviewees sa room 209 ay pumasa,” he said. (KKFI is lucky for us. All eight reviewees from room 209 passed). He added, “I will not hesitate to refer this to my friends and schoolmates.”

Among the users of the K-hub are johnrein Dulay at Brent Alarcio, fellow residents, who regularly play the piano. Indeed, who would not be relaxed when you hear the beautiful sound of mixed classical and contemporary pieces played from the old piano envelope the surroundings in the morning and at night. Would you not be inspired to study? They affirm that Kapatiran dorm is conducive to learning. We invite students and reviewees to stay here and find out for themselves.

KAPATIRAN STORIES: ALMOST NOTHING IS NEW YET EVERYTHING IS NEW

By Nancy C. Nicolas

KKFI Executive Director

Twenty members, including two new ones, attended the Annual General Membership (AGM) Meeting yesterday, April 18, 2017, held in the Ruth Prudente Hall of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) Compound on P. Paredes Street in Sampaloc, Manila.

One of the highlights of the half-day meeting was the acceptance of five new members of the Foundation, namely: Reinier Reyes Puno, Edna Oraye Imperial, Dr. Glenn Roy Villa Paraso, Bernice Laudencia Dumlao and Dr. Irma Francisco Panaga.

Aside from this part of the meeting, almost nothing else changed. An election for five members of the Board of Trustees was held and voted were re-electionists Dr. Florangel R. Braid, Mrs. Ruth Flores, Mr. Eduardo C. Jimenez, Mrs. Fiona A. Molina and Mrs. Perla E. Gunzon.

I take their fresh mandate to be an affirmation that the present Board, as a whole, is doing a good job and a marching order to continue its good work. Hence, almost nothing is new.

Or so it seems. But a closer scrutiny of the programs and projects of the “Kapatiran” will show that they are moving and evolving fast. Hence, new challenges are presenting themselves continuously to the Board and the Kapatiran staff.

As the executive director, I am proud of what the working staff of KKFI has done and is doing. During the AGM yesterday, we presented a video production showing a glimpse of the works of the Foundation this past year.  It was prepared by Kapatiran’s program director, Ms Christian Love Daroy-Gagno.

Another highlight of the AGM was the presentation of a new book we call the Kapatiran Stories, a compilation of blog entries and articles published in mainstream magazines about Kapatiran’s programs. We also created an electronic version (e-book) of it for our friends abroad.

One of the touching moments of the gathering occurred at the start, when the Board Chairperson, Ma’am Goody Mercado urged the Board members to be more involved in the works of KKFI. She said she “witnessed first-hand that God is using KKFI to extend His hand to the children and youth who were assisted to continue their education.”

Ma’am Goody related that her exposure to the things Kapatiran does changed her. She said: “In the process, I am no longer a bleeding-heart fence-sitter but an actor who joins the struggle of the underprivileged children and youth Kapatiran is trying to help.”

She said she was blessed by what she underwent. She concluded: “There is only one conclusion that I would like to share to all of you: These experiences have enriched me emotionally and spiritually. It is my prayer that everyone in the Board of Trustees be as blessed as I am by immersing in the programs and activities of our Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc.”

With Ma’am Goody’s permission, I would like to extend the same invitation to everyone who is reading this piece because I believe it is our duty as a Christian to help those in need. I know you will be equally blessed, especially because you will not just help an individual or individuals but a whole generation of the future.